Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Wieser
773d Civil Engineer Squadron
2/10/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- I
have read many articles on leadership throughout my 15 years in the Air
Force and have adopted many great traits from all of them. One
particular detail common to many of the articles is taking care of your
people. I believe this is an extremely important principle, but would
like to expand on the matter by focusing on four "people" and how to
care for each.
Take care of your subordinates
In order to take care of your people, you must know your people. I
believe this starts with getting to know your subordinates. Where they
are from, how many siblings they have, what their favorite sports teams
and music genres are, etc. Knowing your people shows you care and will
help develop synergy in your section.
Take care of your peers
We preach this every day in our Air Force ¬¬- make sure you have a
wingman. However, if you are a master sergeant and one of your fellow
master sergeants is having issues with his or her section, do you offer
to help or do you show how great your section is in comparison? We are
all human beings and we all want to do well. Teamwork means we are all
on the same team and need to take care of each other.
Take care of your leaders
I feel this is often overlooked. Our leaders take orders from higher
authorities, just like us, and we need to have empathy to transform
their vision. If you don't like their decisions, it is still your job to
carry out their vision and move forward without undermining their
authority or causing morale issues. Remember, leaders can have bad days
too so don't be afraid to ask, "How is your day going? You look
stressed. Is there anything I can do?"
Take care of yourself
This is by far the most important. By taking care of yourself
physically, mentally, technically and spiritually, you can truly walk
the walk. If you can take care of yourself, and practice what you
preach, you will become a transformational leader who can continue to
meet every challenge in the current fiscal environment and make our Air
Force run like a well-oiled machine.
It is very difficult to take care of all four of these people groups 24
hours a day, seven days a week. You must find balance in life. Bottom
line: If you have self-awareness, you can become a great leader by
learning from the mistakes and successes of your subordinates, peers and
leaders. Most importantly, as you have heard before, if you don't learn
from your past, history is bound to repeat itself. To be an effective
leader, you need to learn from your own mistakes. The next time you
self-reflect, ask yourself how you are doing taking care of your people.